South African court forbids electricity workers' strike as World Cup nears

09:25, May 27, 2010      

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South Africa' s state owned power utility, Eskom, after securing a court interdict on Tuesday night to prevent a strike, said it had contingency plans to ensure security of supply during the looming FIFA World Cup.

With South Africa due to host the World Cup from June 11 to July 11, the country is also in the third week of major strike by rail transport workers.

Should the planned Eskom strike by South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) go ahead despite the court order, the country's 10 FIFA World Cup Stadiums may not be affected as each has its own back up electricity generators.

Explaining Tuesday night's court order, Eskom said in a statement to the South African Press Association (SAPA): "Eskom is an essential service and employees of an organization classified as such are prohibited from taking part in industrial action".

As a result, engaging in such action would be considered unlawful.

Earlier on Tuesday NUM spokesman Shane Choshane said 16,000 of its workers were planning to strike.

The union planned a march to Eskom's head office in MegaWatt Park in Johannesburg on Wednesday, and NUM members would strike at Eskom power plants "wherever they are".

SAPA reported that some workers apparently started striking at Eskom plants on Tuesday, but Choshane couldn't say how many downed tools.

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